The novel is tells the story of Ibn Haytham,a great scholar who lived in 10th century, whose scientific discoveries laid the foundation of optics in modern physics.
Ibn al-Haytham, one of the greatest scholars in history, whose real life was one of the most colourful and fascinating ever told by historians, has been brought to life in a work of fiction utterly brilliantly by Steffens. The reader is transported one thousand years into medieval Arabia. This is a gripping story based on real-life events that is fizzing with adventure and rich in accurate historical and scientific nuggets.
Jim Al-Khalili, British theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster
The novel is engaging and an easy read. It is recommended that one have some knowledge of the eventful life of Ibn al-Haytham in order to fully appreciate the fictionalized plot, but that is not required. It stands on its own in terms of exciting storyline, interesting dialogue and well-written prose. Even readers who have never heard of Ibn al-Haytham before will be pulled into the action of the story and perhaps even develop an interest in the scientist’s real achievements.
The story begins with the kidnapping of Ibn al-Haytham by a man sent by the Caliph of Cairo, al-Hakim. From Basra the caravan of kidnaper and victim travels to Egypt where Ibn al-Haytham is tasked with the impossible: damming the river Nile. Each character is well-crafted and in-depth. Each chapter includes action-packed adventure. Ghosts, superstition, murderous robbers all mingle to form a delightful mix. At the same time, fans of history will appreciate the descriptions of Cairo and Basra, the esteemed House of Wisdom, even the deserts forming the backdrop of the book. There are plenty of women with strong, independent spirits, and many men in whose hearts burns the love of both God and science. And expectedly, Ibn al-Haytham’s final and his most momentous discovery takes center stage in this novel.
Award-winning author Bradley Steffens is well-suited to writing a historical novel. He has already authored more than 30 nonfiction books for children and young adults, including Ibn al-Haytham, First Scientist. The Prisoner of al-Hakim is his first work of fiction and is available on Amazon here.
Blue Minaret: A Literary Journal Chronicling the Muslim Experience, http://www.blueminaret.com/book-review-the-prisoner-of-al-hakim/
From the very first page Steffens brilliantly brings Alhasan’s internal character to life on the page, sketching a conflicted,fascinating portrait of a reluctant hero.
The Fountain Magazine, on Life, Knowledge and Belief, https://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/take-up-the-pen-not-the-sword
to read the whole review / interview: The Fountain
- ... this with tear-stained eyes to say how much I loved this book
- The Prisoner of Al-Hakim was a wonderful journey of a man's self discovery
- Historic and Timely "Read" - You'll not be able to put it down...fabulously researched and delivered!
- ...a wonderful job of surrounding historical facts with an interesting story
- This is a great read! It is not only a great historical read, but a lovely romance too! A wonderful novel!
-The Prisoner of Al-Hakim has surprised me. The story is so engaging that I kept turning the pages, the scenes playing out in my mind as a movie.
-An Amazing Journey From Start to Finish
-Entertaining, Imaginative, Well-Crafted